Between The Barriers… Northern Lights….

by Bernie Bell - 08:46 on 28 February 2023

Between The Barriers…

We parked by the third Churchill Barrier - went down the steps and onto the beach - walked along to the Second Barrier….

…..tapped the Barrier with my stick, and walked back.

A fine day for a fine walk – meeting people out with their dogs, stopping for a yarn, enjoying the sunshine.  I felt like I’d come out of hibernation – shed a skin.

I was thinking - it’s odd that they’re still called Barriers - they were barriers, to German warships - but now they bring the islands together and bring people together - not barriers at all.

If anyone is wondering what the Churchill Barriers are…. https://www.orkney.com/listings/churchill-barriers

And here’s the tale of a previous walk along that stretch of beach….. https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/04/07/what-we-glimpsed-at-glimps-holm/

What a place to live.


Northern Lights….

We’ve seen the Northern Lights, and I wrote about it…..  https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/12/19/the-merry-dancers/

In recent months there have been spectacular images of the Lights  - very vivid. These days I’m mostly half asleep by the time it gets dark, so I/we haven’t seen the Northern Lights in reality, only seen pictures of them.  I’ve wondered if it might freak me out a bit to see them so vivid – a bit too much to take maybe?

Then we come to the night of Sunday 26th February, when we’d been for a walk (see above) and I was pooped and went to bed about half past eight – so I wasn’t looking at the night sky.

Monday, on the computer screen and later on the television news – very, very vivid images – almost lurid in colour.  And I wondered, again, if seeing that would freak me out – not sure if I want to.  I also thought – is there something wrong?  Is this happening because of the damage done to our atmosphere – is that why the Northern Lights are so vivid?

I mentioned this to Mike, who suggested that it might simply be that cameras are so much more sophisticated now, and they pick up more than they did - wavelengths that we can’t see - hence the ultra-vivid colouration.  It could be that, if a person sees the Lights with the naked eye, they would be just as beautiful and subtle as ever. 

I then wondered ….if folk saw the vivid images, and were expecting to see that in the sky, and didn’t - would they be disappointed?  Would they feel that Nature had somehow ‘let them down’?  Not provided the ‘show’ they were expecting?  Be dissatisfied with Nature  – expecting the digitized version.

Today’s world - when what Nature provides isn’t good enough.  How often are photographs enhanced, when the subject matter is stunning enough as it is – to the extent that I regularly question whether what I’m seeing in a picture is ‘real’ or not? 

A few years ago our neighbour took a pic. of the Northern Lights across the hill behind our houses, and gave us a copy.  It’s realistic, it’s what’s there, it’s subtle, and it’s beautiful. It’s the Northern Lights.

Pic by Steve Davey


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/05/30/a-strange-approach-to-a-true-tale/


Comment from Eamonn Keyes at 09:32 on 28 February 2023.
I saw the lights recently, but we were totally clouded out for the show on Saturday and Sunday.
Mike is right, cameras pick up a much wider range of wavelengths than the human eye, and there is also usually a lengthened exposure time to gather up the available light. So, as a result the photos show an enhanced colour view. This can be disappointing for some in real life, although I still find them entrancing. But as with many things, the media likes to blow up the spectacle to something that will sell papers regardless of the disappointment that may follow. Similar to the much trumpeted ‘super moons’, just slightly larger than normal and with no apparent difference to most.
Nature doesn’t need hyperbole. It’s wonderful enough as it is.
Comment from Bernie Bell at 14:36 on 28 February 2023.
"Nature doesn’t need hyperbole. It’s wonderful enough as it is."

Just so, Eamonn - just so.

And the Moon was 'super' before any human named it so - before any human even saw it!

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